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.44 Special as a Defensive Load?

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by mesinge2, Aug 6, 2009.

  1. mesinge2

    mesinge2 Well-Known Member

    I bought a used Night Guard .44 Magnum with a 2 1/2" barrel from a friend who hated the recoil and he was right, it is punishing with the .44 Mag rounds. The short barrel and the scandium frame are a bad combo for this round. I have a 3 inch model 29 so I thought I could handle it. I had a ego trip, "I can control any recoil," he, and I, probably should have bought the same gun in .45 ACP.

    Anyway, I have never seriously considered the .44 special for self-defense. I would like some advise on ammo brand, design (LRN, LWC, JHP, etc), or if I should just try and trade it for the .45 ACP.
  2. Matrix187

    Matrix187 Well-Known Member

    I think you should go for a .45 ACP. While 44 special is a good manstopper, it doesn't offer any advantage over 45 acp, and ammo costs more.
  3. TexasRifleman

    TexasRifleman Moderator Emeritus

    .44 Special is one of my favorite handloads.

    In commercial rounds, like you'd want for carry, the Winchester Silvertip is a good choice.

    Very nice ammo, extremely expensive. But it's an absolutely fine choice for a defensive round, you just have to have a pain tolerance for the $$$
  4. CSA 357

    CSA 357 Well-Known Member

    you will be well served with the 44 special, i carry cast hand loads in my 624, someone should chime in with a good factory load
  5. mesinge2

    mesinge2 Well-Known Member

    TexasRifleman, Thanks. I ordered some silvertip on Midway, around $23 a box of 20. Now, let me hold my breath until it arrives. Ha, it's on back order until 9-26-09.
  6. Roadkill

    Roadkill Well-Known Member

    I have an old Western Marshall .44 magnum and I hand load .44 special for it. Very accurate, easy to shoot. 230g cast bullet with 5g of red dot.
  7. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    .44 Spc. can be a very good self-defense round. Just make sure you buy decent ammo. By "decent" I mean Cor-Bon, Double-Tap or similar loadings that actually produce good energy.

    What ever you do, don't waste good money on Winchester's 200 gr Silver Tip loading! I bought a box of those at $1 a shot. When I chrono'd them through my 4" 629 they were barely breaking 700 fps! So now I had a gun that was several oz. heavier than my 1911, held 3 fewer rounds, and not only were the bullets 30 gr. lighter than my .45ACP carry loads, but they were moving more than 200 fps SLOWER.

    Very disappointing.

    Double-Tap sells a .44 Spc. load that pushes a 200 gr. bullet at 1150 fps.

    And, seeing as your gun is rated for .44 Mags, you can build loads that make pretty much any power level in between light target Specials and the heavy mags.

    My personal favorite load is pretty mild for a magnum but hot for a Special. 200 gr. XTP at 1250 fps. Great shooter, doesn't produce much recoil (in my all steel 629), and should make quite an impression.

    There are plenty of reasons to choose a higher-capacity and faster-reloading autoloader, and .45 ACP is a great choice. But if you shoot the revolver well and have comfortable carry options worked out for it, there's no reason you can't take advantage of the wheelgun's greater power capacity.

  8. S&W 25-2

    S&W 25-2 Member

    An old crusty Idaho cowboy named Elmer Keith knocked down a lot of stuff with hot 44 Special loads. If it was good enough for him... well...
  9. KenWP

    KenWP member

    Years ago the old Bulldog 44 was suggested as a good defensive weapon becasue just looking down that big hole made it scarey. The point was that it could cool things down just from the look of the gun with out haveing to resort to shooting it. Same idea as for using a 12 gauge.

    BLACKHAWKNJ Well-Known Member

    In the Old West the 44-44-40, in their case-ranked right up there with the
    45. I'm sure wherever he is, Jeff Cooper is smiling down on you knowing you at least rely on a big bore for self defense.
  11. .455_Hunter

    .455_Hunter Well-Known Member

    I am still working on finding my ideal .44 Special loading for my 4" 624. The current production 200 gr. Winchester Silvertip is pathetic- less than 700 fps with absolutely minimal expansion into straight water jugs, even though bullet is custom fabricated for that loading only. The Hornady 180 gr. XTP was better in the velocity/energy department, but shared the poor expansion characteristics with the Silvertip. At least the XTP has an excuse, since the bullet is primarily used in the .44 Magnum. The Speer Gold Dot does fairly well in the velocity/expansion departments and is probably the best on the "traditional" pressure load on the market right now. I have yet to test the Federal LHP or the CCI Blazer Gold Dot (supposedly a bit faster than its Speer sibling).

    I tested some Corbon 165 JHP's and they exceeded their velocity expectations but fragmented badly into the water jugs. Of course, throw some clothing into the mix, along with a non-homogeneous medium, and their expansion characteristics might become more controlled. I kinda wish Corbon had kept using the 180 gr. XTP for their loading, as it appears to perform very well at the higher velocities (from Mr. Camps website).

    I really want to test Buffalo Bore's two loadings as well as the Double Tap loading in the near future.
  12. Oro

    Oro Well-Known Member

    Why it sure does! I haven't seen a standard pressure .45acp that can throw a 240gr HP out at near 1100 fps. The .44 special has been, for more than a century, many big-bore revolver guy's first choice cartridge. It's exceedingly versatile, and is worth reloading for so you can get everything out of it.

    I prefer tossing mine out of a 3" 629 and not a lightweight, though.
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2009
  13. DasFriek

    DasFriek Well-Known Member

    Oddly enough my 1911 in .45acp does my HD duty,and honestly id prefer the .44
    I love the .45 but it lacks some power and penetration i prefer.Im the type who wants a .460 Rowland conversion just for this reason.

    Ive always thought if i have to defend myself at home it will be against a 350lb 6'6" guy wearing multiple layers of cloths under a parka while strung out on drugs.

    But reality says it will be a 150lb 5'8" guy in jeans and a tshirt.
  14. rfurtkamp

    rfurtkamp Well-Known Member

    I don't feel undergunned if I have to carry a revolver with my S&W 296, which is the very definition of pain at 18 ounces if loaded with magnum or near magnum rounds (some cylinders were shipped with mag dimensions, not specials, and the factory didn't recall them). I'm using 200gr JHPs generally, although I've shot the 240s without issue if I make sure they're excessively crimped.

    I've shot the 396 and its cousins in titanium guns, the key is working your way up, don't start with abusive. However, for two-legged problems, I'd still load it with hot specials rather than mags.

    Learn to master the gun with light loads before hitting magnums or even giving up on them.

    This isn't your 29 (and I love my 29 too) and demands a different level of respect.

    Personally I'd keep it over one in 45 ACP, if nothing else to stay away from the abominable moon clips.'
  15. Oro

    Oro Well-Known Member

    Exactly. I love me my 1911's, and usually keep at least one in the nightstand with the .357s and .44s. But when it comes to revolvers, the .44 Special has it all over the .45acp. My only .45 revolver is a .45 Long Colt, not an ACP, despite the ammo compatibility with the autos. Moon clips blow - don't let them tell you differently. Misery loves company, and they won't give you the whole story.
  16. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    I've read that XTPs were designed to expand best at around 1,200 fps. And that's a bit above any commercial loading for .44 Spc. But, if you roll your own... :)

    Last edited: Aug 7, 2009
  17. wnycollector

    wnycollector Well-Known Member

  18. Taurus 617 CCW

    Taurus 617 CCW Well-Known Member

    As far as defensive ammo goes, have a look at the blazer .44 special. It has a 200 grain Gold Dot hollowpoint. It's the meanest hollowpoint I've ever seen! I have carried those in my S&W 629 for urban loads.
  19. krs

    krs Well-Known Member

    I reload 240 grain lead and 260 grain jacketed soft points in .44 Special for one of my favorite wintertime pocket pistols - a 3" Lew Horton S&W Model 24 that I bought for the purpose.

    There's no real need to load it hot - it's a nice and easy way to simply wallop someone without the need to carry a ball bat around :)

    In the big N frame it's a very comfortable setup to shoot - better than a .380 from a 3PaT, and I don't think that there'll be any need to go tell some jerk that he's been shot...... He'll just know.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2009
  20. .455_Hunter

    .455_Hunter Well-Known Member

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